Comment on Recent Criticism in Social Media
By: Bernard Frischer, Owner, Flyover Zone Productions on 2/27/2019



As founder of Flyover Zone Productions, the publisher of Rome Reborn, and as director of the project since its inception in 1996, I write to comment on the recent criticism of Rome Reborn in social media by Prof. Sarah Bond. First, let me thank her for all the kind words about the academic quality and aesthetic beauty of our Rome Reborn applications. She raises two issues: (1) giving credit on the current website for work done in the past by collaborators on earlier versions of the Rome Reborn reconstruction of ancient Rome; and (2) making the results of the project Open Access (i.e., available to end users at no cost).

     [1] Credit. I agree with Prof. Bond on the need to give due credit and would simply note that she missed the place on the website where we did just that. Please see the video of our international press conference launching Rome Reborn held in Rome’s Foreign Press Association on November 21, 2018. The video was posted on our website shortly thereafter. You can view it on our website by going to ROME REBORN OFFICIAL LAUNCH EVENT (ROME) at www.romereborn.org/content/announcements and then by clicking on the video at https://vimeo.com/303814165 (for the expression of thanks with a listing of the primary contributors, see 04:25 to 04:49). Of course, we are very grateful to our past contributors! To minimize the risk that someone in the future might not spot this expression of gratitude, we have repeated it on this website at https://www.romereborn.org/content/aboutcontact

     [2] Open Access (OA). Regarding the second issue, Prof. Bond anticipated us with the great idea of OAing Rome Reborn 3.0, with which we wholeheartedly agree.  When her review appeared, plans were already afoot to do so this spring, when we will be making an OA version of Rome Reborn 3.0 available with the help of our wonderful partners at Smarthistory. Will we still sell applications for PCs and VR headsets based on version 3.0 of the model? For the moment, yes. Those applications add other content and sophisticated game-engine programming to the raw 3D model, which, I should note, is also (pace Prof. Bond) our intellectual property. We developed and own the model and these applications. We have the right—and, indeed, duty to our investors and developers who share in the proceeds—to make them Paid Access (PA). I wrote “for the moment” because even these PA apps could be made retroactively OA, if a philanthropic sponsor would step forward and subsidize their free distribution. We would be delighted to see that happen. If you can help, please contact me at bernie@romereborn.org

     I conclude by noting that in collaborating with Smarthistory to make this new video fly-through of Rome Reborn 3.0, I am continuing my past work in making OA Rome Reborn 1.0 and 2.0, not to mention my other digital projects, including the OA Digital Sculpture Project (www.digitalsculpture.org)  and the OA Digital Hadrian’s Villa Project (http://vwhl.soic.indiana.edu/villa/). For the OA versions of Rome Reborn, see:

The grant officer responsible for much of the funding behind versions 1.0 and 2.0 of Rome Reborn wrote me on January 2, 2018 stating that he found my report about the number of views at that time (3.1 million) “truly heartwarming.” Today, the total is 3.3 million views.

     One final point about OA. I led an editorial board revolt against the commercial publisher Elsevier for its exorbitant Article Processing Charge ($3,000) that authors must pay to make an article OA in the journal I founded, Digital Applications to Archaeology and Cultural Heritage. I then co-founded a new, OA journal called Studies in Digital Heritage (www.studiesdh.org). Thanks to the volunteer work by my co-editor-in-chief Gabriele Guidi, the copy-editor Jane W. Crawford, myself, and the free support offered by the Indiana University Library, Studies in Digital Heritage is not only completely free to readers but also to authors (i.e., we have an Article Processing Charge of $0). See “History of the Journal” at https://scholarworks.iu.edu/journals/index.php/sdh/about). Those familiar with the ways of OA will know that the absence of an Article Processing Charge sets our journal apart from most.

     By coincidence, Studies in Digital Heritage was on the program of a public event organized last week by the Indiana University Library. Yesterday, I received a video of the event. To hear me talking about OA, the journal and why we founded it, please see 6:50 to 19:00 of this video:  https://iu.mediaspace.kaltura.com/media/Ownership+%26+Openness+in+Scholarly+Publishing/1_459ifrcw

     So, I hope it’s clear that I have nothing against OA. Au contraire!